November 19, 2018
A dangerous Nuclear Arms Race is brewing in Asia involving India, Pakistan, China, Iran, Israel and North Korea. The Nuclear Arms Race which was initially prevalent in the West has now precariously shifted to Asia. The Asian region urgently needs new diplomatic initiatives to reduce nuclear dangers and prevent the arms race in the region before a catastrophe strikes. A EurAsian Times Analysis.
Experts that EurAsian Times talked to say that one cannot deny the glaring gap between the ambitious disarmament goals set out in the relevant goal treaties, namely the 1968 UN adopted ‘Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)’ and the ‘Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW)’. Moreover, one cannot overlook the growing regional arms race, which even Saudi Arabia plans to join.
The three Asian neighbours – India, China and Pakistan are all nuclear powered and have made South Asia a very dangerous place. The pattern is quite obvious. If one country masters nuclear technology and announces it, its neighbours and enemies will immediately develop weapons, both for national defence as well as national pride.
More countries are now developing state-of-the-art weapons, and sharing technology and resources. More money is being spent on it, nuclear proliferation is very much evident now than ever before. According to various media reports and analysis, Pakistan has been accused of assisting Iran in nuclear development, while the US has suspected Iran and North Korea of colluding on weapons development.
What Could Happen
Experts are of the opinion that even a small-scale nuclear incident would prove to be disastrous. According to Brookings “it would produce casualties of unprecedented magnitude given the region’s weak medical and emergency infrastructure and the close proximity of urban areas.
Even a single nuclear detonation over a major South Asian city would produce considerable devastation.
A ‘small’ nuclear war would be an unprecedented catastrophe for the region, a ‘major’ one would have global, physical, environmental and biological repercussions.” This is a wake-up call for the world.
Lack of Arms Control Leadership
There is a lack of arms control leadership distinctly in Asia. Experts say that strategic communities in Asia have been preoccupied with nuclear and missile developments in states that haven’t been constrained by the INF treaty; China, India, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia have been free to test and deploy dual-capable missiles that are banned under the treaty.
The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty was a Cold War-era US and Soviet arms control agreement. It still remains in force but talks have been to dissolve it but US allies have warned that a dissolution would undermine European security.
China has been openly sceptical about arms control and this will definitely pose a big challenge. According to an expert, “Asian leaders can pursue a common strategy of diplomatic persuasion to encourage the extension of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START), designed to verifiably reduce the US and Russian strategic nuclear arsenals.”
Therefore, the New START extension is an essential building block for Asian arms control and strategic stability in general. But getting Asia’s nuclear-armed states on board will definitely be a tedious task.